There are clear, quantifiable benefits to obtaining HR certifications. The degree to which becoming certified impacts pay and career progression for HR pros varies among job levels, geographies, industries and the specific certification. But overall, getting an HR certification seems to be a smart move for the majority of U.S. HR professionals.
To measure the value of HR certifications, we analyzed salary profiles from 102,006 HR professionals in the United States who responded to our salary survey as early as 2003 and as late as May 2018. We restricted the sample to respondents with one of six common HR job titles (HR Assistant, HR Administrator, HR Generalist, HR Manager, HR Director, and VP of HR). 34,897 people reported having at least one HR certification (34.2 percent).
We used a linear regression to account for the effects of other factors (such as years of experience, specific job title, location and so on) on pay and estimated the value of each certification by itself. Because some certifications co-occur frequently (for example, more than 60 percent of respondents with a SHRMCP also had a PHR), the value of one single certification can be difficult to measure; if an individual has both a SHRM-CP and a PHR, how can we say which of the two is responsible for their pay? We solved this problem by including every possible pair of certifications in the regression. This ensured that our estimates were reliable estimates of individual certifications.
We restricted our sample to only HR professionals in California to estimate the effects of the two HRCI California-specific certifications.
Total Cash Compensation (TCC): TCC combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits or value of other non-cash benefits (e.g., healthcare).
Median Pay: The median pay is the national median (50th percentile) annual total cash compensation. Half the people doing the job earn more than the median, while half earn less.
Job Title Five Years Ago: In PayScale’s salary survey, users are asked what their job title was five years ago. We used these data to calculate the ratio of HR professionals who received a promotion in the past five years. We excluded previous or current job titles outside of the list of titles above to deal with the issue of people switching functions to and from HR, and to identify title changes that are clearly promotions.